Author Archive

Vote for next shirt! Mets?

We just gave away the CC Sabathia shirt in the previous entry.

I’ve narrowed it down to the following teams for next week’s giveaway, that will be revealed sometime tomorrow afternoon/early evening.

Commenters were asked to choose from these teams by posting a comment (the comment also counts as an entry in next Sunday’s drawing):
The results were
CUBS=1
CARDINALS=1
BREWERS=3
TWINS=1
METS=6

It looks like the Mets win.

Now, should I give away a David Wright shirt, a Jason Bay shirt, a Johan Santana shirt, or a Classic Print (black shirt/orange letter L,XL) shirt?

Let me know what you think and I’ll decide and post pics for the next contest after dinner.

2012 NL West Predictions & Preview

Today, I’ve decided to focus on the final remaining division in my 2012 MLB Predictions series. In case you missed my division previews, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, AL WestNL East  and NL Central preview by clicking on the links provided.

I’ve used the Major League Baseball Yearbook magazine to provide the statistical projects.

Here’s how I think the NL West will end up:

1st Place: San Francisco Giants.  (My prediction 88-74)
The Giants finished in second place to the Diamondbacks last season, but I think that they’ll win a few more games in 2012 with the return of Buster Posey to the lineup.  I had trouble picking a winner for the NL West, because I love the Giants starters, the Diamondbacks are solid offensively and pitching wise, and the Rockies offense looks great.  Ultimately, I had to go with the starting pitching.

Posey suffered a gruesome injury on a home plate collision that cut short his 2012 campaign.  The former Rookie of the Year is healthy now, which should help an otherwise below average offense.

Aubrey Huff struggled a bit last year, hitting just .246 with 12 homers.  At age 35, you have to wonder how much he has left in his declining skill set.  Ideally, you’d like to see more production from your first baseman than Huff offered last season.

Freddy Sanchez dealt with shoulder issues last year and hopes to be ready for opening day.  The former NL batting champ gives the Giants good defense and a solid average year in a year out.

“The Kung Fu Panda” Pablo Sandoval should provide the most pop in the lineup. He walloped 24 dingers last year.  Sandoval just needs to keep his weight in check so it doesn’t hinder him defensively.

The Giants outfield is sub par.  There’s Melky Cabrera, who has bounced around in recent seasons and would classify as an above average outfielder,

but then there’s Angel Pagan, who doesn’t offer much of anything offensively,

and Nate Schierholtz, who doesn’t offer much either.

The Giants playoff aspirations will hinge on Tim Lincecum and the starting staff.  Lincecum has arguably been the best pitcher in the National League since his debut several seasons ago.

Matt Cain, who becomes a free agent at the end of the season, should be motivated to put up huge numbers in his ‘contract’ year.  Cain would be the ace of most staffs, but fits in nicely behind Lincecum as the #2 of this staff.

Is it just me, or does Cain look eerily similar to this guy in that picture:

Actor John C Reilly.

Madison Bumgarner had a 3.21 ERA last season.  That’s amazing for a #3 starter.

Ryan Vogelsong had the comeback of the decade, rebuilding his career and posting a 2.71 ERA while becoming an All Star at age 34.  Vogelsong struggled mightly in Pittsburgh when he was the centerpiece of the Jason Schmidt deal that sent Schmidt off to the Giants.  After a couple seasons as a mop up man in the Pirates bullpen, Vogelsong disappeared – he went and played in Japan for awhile – before resurfacing last year to baffle NL batters.  What a story.

The 5th man of the rotation will be Barry Zito, who will make 19 million dollars in 2012, and still hasn’t posted a winning record or sub 4.00 ERA in his 5 seasons with the Giants.  His contract has really hurt the Giants, who could’ve used those millions and millions of dollars to add more offense.  Maybe he should focus more on pitching and less on guitar and destroying his liver:

The closer will be the crazy Brian Wilson.  I vote for his 2013 Topps Card to be a landscape of this shot:  Nothing more:

Wilson surely will look creepier and creepier as the season progresses.  What’s he planning on doing with his beard?  Will he ever cut or trim it?

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Buster Posey .297-18-75
1B Aubrey Huff .258-15-63
2B Freddy Sanchez .291-8-56
3B Pablo Sandoval .306-24-77
SS Brandon Crawford .243-6-38
LF Angel Pagan .272-10-73
CF Melky Cabrera .314-11-65
RF Nate Schierholtz .273-11-53

SP Tim Lincecum 14-12, 2.91 ERA, 213 IP, 223 K
SP Matt Cain 12-11, 2.97 ERA, 218 IP, 174 K
SP Madison Bumgarner 13-11, 3.05 ERA, 195 IP, 176 K
SP Ryan Vogelsong 11-10, 3.89 ERA, 204 IP, 174 K
SP Barry Zito 5-9, 4.73 ERA, 116 IP, 85 K
RP Brian Wilson 2.85 ERA, 35 SV, 60 IP, 67 K
RP Sergio Romo 1.99 ERA, 1 SV, 50 IP, 65 K

2nd  place: Arizona Diamondbacks (My prediction 85-77)
The Diamondbacks won the division last season with 94 wins, which shocked baseball, especially since they had only won 69 games the year before.  25 win improvements are very rare.  Nearly the same team returns in 2012, with new additions Trevor Cahill and Jason Kubel.  However, I think that the Diamondbacks greatly overachieved in 2011, and probably won’t quite duplicate their success.

Miguel Montero is one of the better young catchers in the game.  He’ll also be a free agent soon and may look for Yadier Molina type money.

Paul Goldschmidt will man first base.  He’s some power, but he’s a young player who could face difficulty.  He’ll be one to watch.

Aaron Hill used to be really good with the Blue Jays, but lost his way last year when he only hit 8 homers. He hit 36 homers in 2009.  What happened?

Ryan Roberts is a defensive liability, but has some power to go along with all of those crazy tattoos.

Stephen Drew had a down year in 2011 and could bounce back after only hitting .252-5-45 in 2011.

The outfield of the Diamondbacks is solid – way better than the Giants.  They’ve got Justin Upton, who hit 31 homers last year,

Chris Young, who also has pop – 20 homers in 2011, but has struggled with his batting average and on base percentage,

and Jason Kubel, who only hit 12 bombs in 2011 with the Twins, but hit at least 20 in his previous three seasons.

The starting rotation is anchored by Ian Kennedy, who had the best record in Major League baseball last year at 21-4.  Can he duplicate it?  I say not likely.

Daniel Hudson will be the #2 starter, who posted a record of 16-12 last year.

Trevor Cahill, and Josh Collmenter are slightly above average and round out the rest of the rotation.  The #5 job could go to Barry Enright or Wade Miley.

The Diamondbacks were extremely strong in the bullpen last year.  Their weakest link was Craig Breslow, and his ERA was a decent 3.79.  JJ Putz had the second best season of his 9 year career when he posted a 2.17 ERA with 45 saves.

Bullpen pitchers are tough to predict though from season to season.  I think the Diamondbacks may see a bit of a regression in the later innings this year.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Miguel Montero .292-17-80
1B Paul Goldschmidt .275-24-78
2B Aaron Hill .265-15-76
3B Ryan Roberts .247-16-57
SS Stephen Drew .261-11-68
LF Jason Kubel .264-20-87
CF Chris Young .235-19-69
RF Justin  Upton .286-30-90

SP Daniel Hudson 17-12, 3.23 ERA, 231 IP, 180 K
SP Ian Kennedy 17-8, 3.13 ERA, 207 IP, 185 K
SP Trevor Cahill 15-13, 3.86 ERA, 200 IP, 143 K
SP Josh Collmenter 13-13, 3.50 ERA, 193 IP, 125 K
SP Wade Miley 10-10, 4.32 ERA, 154 IP, 127 K
RP JJ Putz 2.41 ERA, 40 SV, 52 IP, 57 K
RP David Hernandez 3.98 ERA, 6 SV, 75 IP, 72 K
3rd place place: Colorado Rockies.  (My prediction 82-80)
Even though the Rockies have used the humidor for a few years to negate the effects of high altitude offense, the Rockies look to have a potent lineup for the coming year.

Ramon Hernandez, formerly of the Cincinnati Reds replaces Chris Iannetta at catcher.

Todd Helton, who once put up ridiculous stats, hasn’t hit 20 homers since 2005, but still can deliver a decent batting average.

Second base could feature Eric Young Jr, Jonathan Herrera or Chris Nelson

I’m not a fan of Casey Blake as the team’s third baseman.  He’s 38, and the Rockies should be nervous that this is the season where everything kind of falls apart for him and he needs to be a backup or retire.

Troy Tulowitzki is the Rockies best player, and could possibly win the NL MVP award if the Rockies have a decent year.  Not too many shortstops in the game can provide 30 homers and 100+ RBIs anymore.

The outfield looks great.  The speedy Dexter Fowler, rumored to have increased his muscle mass, will roam center field.

At the corners, the Rockies have a star in Carlos Gonzalez – who belted 26 homers last year,

and free agent acquisition Michael Cuddyer.  Cuddyer hit 20 bombs for the Twins and has been a consistently solid performer.

The Rockies rotation looks iffy.  Without Ubaldo Jimenez, there is no clear ace.  Possibly Jhoulys Chacin could fill that role.  He pitched well at just 23 years old last year.

There’s also Jorge De La Rosa.  He was injured last season, but went 5-2 with a 3.51 ERA when he did pitch.

Who will be the closer this year?  Rafael Betancourt?  He’s got good stuff, but his career high in saves is 8.  How will he handle the pressure?  I guess we’ll find out.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Ramon Hernandez .278-13-42
1B Todd Helton .292-13-66
2B Chris Nelson .263-7-32
3B Casey Blake .281-15-73
SS Troy Tulowitzki .311-34-117
LF Michael Cuddyer .301-26-101
CF Dexter Fowler .268-7-51
RF Carlos Gonzalez .307-32-110

SP Jorge De La Rosa 10-4, 3.33 ERA, 127 IP, 126 K
SP Jhoulys Chacin 13-13, 3.58 ERA, 193 IP, 161 K
SP Juan Nicasio 9-10, 3.95 ERA, 171 IP, 140 K
SP Tyler Chatwood 8-13, 4.54 ERA, 157 IP, 86 K
SP Esmil Rogers 9-11, 5.35 ERA, 168 IP, 137 K
RP Rafael Betancourt 2.82 ERA, 27 SV, 61 IP, 78 K
RP Matt Belisle 3.16 ERA, 0 SV, 83 IP, 72 K

4th place: Los Angeles Dodgers (My prediction 76-86)
The Dodgers went 81-81 last year thanks mostly to the MVP caliber season of Matt Kemp and the Cy Young season of Clayton Kershaw.  Kershaw was valued at 7 wins above a replacement starter,

and Matt Kemp, a whopping 10 WaR.  That’s 17 wins.

Without those 2 guys, the Dodgers might have been 64-98 last year.  The fact of the matter is, that they have those two guys, and although I think Kershaw and Kemp will do great in 2012, I don’t think they’ll match their 2011 campaigns.

Matt Kemp however, disagrees.  He’s projecting a 50 homer, 50 steal season from himself.   For the Dodgers sake, hopefully he can, because the rest of their team is very average.

AJ Ellis as the starter?  Replacement level player.

James Loney hasn’t nearly done anything close to what he’s capable of doing.  As a youngster in 2007 he hit 15 homers with a .331 average.  He’s never bettered either of those numbers since.

Mark Ellis is average at best.  He had some good seasons in Oakland years ago, but he’s 35 years old now.

Dee Gordon brings blazing speed to the top of the lineup.  He has no power whatsoever, but will make pitchers sweat a little extra when he takes his lead off of first base.

Juan Uribe was horrendous in 2011, hitting just .204 with 4 homers.  Ugh.

Andre Ethier didn’t contribute much last year, hitting only 11 homers in 135 games.  Where did his power go?

Juan Rivera could take the other outfield spot, hitting 11 homers last year, although personally, I’d rather see Jerry Sands there.  Sands hit 35 homers in 2010 and 33 in 2011 between AAA and the bigs.  Big power.

Besides Kershaw, the Dodgers also have Ted Lilly – who is a class A jerk during batting practice.  Lilly is a soft tossing lefty who has been moderately successful in the major leagues.

Chad Billingsley has had some decent seasons in the past, and is young enough that he could return to the Billingsley of 2007-2008.

The other starters, Chris Capuano and Aaron Harang, are just average at best.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C AJ Ellis .279-8-54
1B James Loney .287-12-72
2B Mark Ellis .260-7-43
3B Juan Uribe .227-8-36
SS Dee Gordon .285-0-29
LF Juan Rivera .261-13-73
CF Matt Kemp .308-35-115
RF Andre Ethier .287-14-66
SP Clayton Kershaw 18-7, 2.41 ERA, 224 IP, 234 K
SP Ted Lilly 11-12, 3.67 ERA, 189 IP, 160 K
SP Chad Billingsley 11-11, 4.03 ERA, 185 IP, 156 K
SP Aaron Harang 13-9, 3.80 ERA, 211 IP, 168 K
SP Chris Capuano 9-10, 4.65 ERA, 163 IP, 149 K
RP Javy Guerra 3.11 ERA, 30 SV, 64 IP, 55 K
RP Kenley Jansen 3.69 ERA, 9 SV, 63 IP, 69 K

5th place:  San Diego Padres (My prediction 65-97)
The Padres are in rebuilding mode and went 71-91 last season, quite a disappointment after winning 90 games in 2010.  I expect things to get a little worse before they start to get better in San Diego.

Of all five players in the infield, none hit more than 9 home runs in 2011.  That’s a major offensive power outage.  Granted, the Padres play their home games at the cavernous Petco Park – but they also get to play 81 games on the road.

Nick Hundley looks to be the starter until top prospect Yasmani Grandal, acquired in the Mat Latos deal, is ready.

Yonder Alonso, also acquired in the same deal, will man first.

The O-Dog, Orlando Hudson, has had a nice career as a middle infielder, and will hope to rebound from a .246 avg from last year.

Remember when Jason Bartlett was an All Star and getting votes in the MVP award race as a Rays shortstop?  Well he’s far from that now, hitting just 2 homers last year to go along with a .245 average.  His WaR last year was a 0.1, meaning he was basically a scrap heap replacement level player.  He definitely needs to improve or the Padres could give at bats to Everth Cabrera.

Chase Headley was once a top prospect, ranked #32 overall in the pre-2008 season.   It’s four years later, and he only has 36 homers in 2,114 plate appearances to go with a .269 average.  He needs to produce, or could risk being non-tendered after the season.

The outfield features Carlos Quentin, Kyle Blanks, and Cameron Maybin.  They all possess the potential to put up power numbers and should make for interesting batting practices.

Quentin is still only 29 and may have some good years left in him.

Maybin is the face of the franchise now, signing a five year, $25 million contract in the offseason.

There’s also big Kyle Blanks, who could potentially hit 20 homers.

The rotation features Edinson Volquez, acquired for Mat Latos.  Volquez needs a bounce back season after posting a 5.71 ERA in 20 starts last year.

Tim Stauffer could be the ace, posting a 3.73 ERA last season.

The closer this year will be Huston Street, brought in to replace Heath Bell.

It’s going to be another long year for the Padres.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Nick Hundley .286-13-45
1B Yonder Alonso .285-13-67
2B Orlando Hudson .256-8-53
3B Chase Headley .276-6-46
SS Jason Bartlett .254-3-38
LF Carlos Quentin .251-19-74
CF Cameron Maybin .260-11-42
RF Will Veneable .248-11-47

SP Tim Stauffer 9-12, 3.47 ERA, 171 IP, 118 K
SP Edinson Volquez 7-9, 4.32 ERA, 144 IP, 140 K
SP Clayton Richard 12-11, 4.00 ERA, 191 IP, 130 K
SP Cory Luebke 12-10, 3.64 ERA, 195 IP, 184 K
SP Dustin Moseley 8-11, 3.46 ERA, 182 IP, 106 K
RP Huston Street 3.99 ERA, 27 SV, 56 IP, 51 K
RP Luke Gregorson 3.06 ERA, 4 SV, 65 IP, 59

So there you have it.

How do you think they’ll finish?

There’s only 19 more days.  NineTEEN – we are officially in the teens.  It won’t be long now.  Also, you could win this CC Sabathia shirt tomorrow, so check back for that.

Got a Buc?

Got a Buc?

The Pirates are bringing back the popular $1 tickets for a game this season – scheduled for Sunday, April 22nd.  Typically, the Pirates have done this in the past for the first night game of the season to draw fans in.  It was always a bit of a downer some years when there would be 37,000 fans for Opening Day, and then 10,000 the next night for game 2 – so the Pirates have been doing this for a few years now.

However, the Pirates open the season against the Phillies at home and their second game, a Saturday night game, is nearly sold out, which is why the Pirates likely chose this game to be their $1 promotion day.

Last year’s Buc Night was April 8 and drew 29,000
In 2010, Buc Night was April 7 and drew 31,000.
In 2009, the first ever Buc Night, April 15 – drew 20,000.
In 2008, there was no Buc Night for game #2 – the second game of the season drew just 9,735.

So, I think it’s a nice idea to get fans to the ballpark early in the season and boost attendance numbers.

What does Buc Night mean to ballhawks?  Stay away.  Stay far away.  Sunday BP’s are rare.  This is to allow players more time to sleep after a night game.  Even when there are Sunday BPs, there is no early entrance for season ticket holders, so you’ll likely only see one team hit, if at all.  The outfield will be packed, so toss up balls between innings will be terribly tough.

Anyhow…

In addition to the $1 tickets fans can buy hot dogs and popcorn for just a buck.

That’s not all… Every kid in attendance age 14 or younger will receive a Kids Recycled Cap.

So what tickets are available?  The entire upper deck, minus the club level is $1.  All outfield box seats are also a $1.  The only seats not priced at a $1 are the infield boxes.  The Pirates could open those up to be $1 though if they sell out of all other seats.  They did it before in the past…

There aren’t 2 lower level outfield box seats left together, as tickets are selling fast, but there are still lower level seats in the upper rows of the outfield box seats, as well as outfield reserved seats on the wall.  So don’t delay!

I bought a bunch of $1 tickets in the lower level in section 131.  I was thinking about giving them away as prizes, maybe after all of the $1 tickets are exhausted from the Pirates.

Just thought I’d like to let you know in case there is anyone looking for a cheap game at PNC Park – or in case any entrepreneurs want to make some money by reselling their tickets (like a bunch of others on Stubhub).

There are only 20 more days until Opening Day, and you have until Sunday to win the Sabathia shirt.

And I extended my posting streak to 56 straight.  What does Joe Dimaggio have on me?  By the way, I just made it by 1 minute.  It’s 11:59!

2012 Cleveland Indians Season Ticket Design

While at work today, Amy sent me this text:

There’s something waiting for you at the door! :)

I knew what it was.  My Indians season tickets!

I raced home and met Amy and Olivia on the porch, as they were waiting with the tickets.  We went inside and I opened the fedEx box.  Here were the contents:

The package featured a Day Planner, which was the nicest of the three plans that I received.  The Pirates sent out no such planner, the Reds sent a cheap calendar, but the Indians sent a nice bound book.

Inside there is a day by day space for you to plan your days around Indians games.  Game dates and TV information is also listed.

The beginning of the planner has 18 pages of information for season ticket holders about their benefits, exchange privileges etc.

Next I looked at the part that is most exciting.  The season ticket books.  The covers of the books were beautiful, featuring Progressive Field beneath a setting sun.

This cover blows away the Pirates cover, and beats the Reds cover too, in my opinion.

I had high expectations when I opened the Indians ticket book to check out what the tickets themselves look like.

Are you ready to see?

Here’s sheet one, games 1-6

And sheet two, games 7-12

The tickets feature Justin Masterson, Shin Shoo Choo, Chris Perez, Asdrubal Cabrera, Manny Acta, Carlos Santana, Travis Hafner, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Grady Sizemore.  They then cycle through several more times through game 81.

What do you think of the design?

I think its far too repetitive and boring.  I like the idea of featuring players on the tickets.  The Pirates and Reds also featured their stars on their tickets.  However, the Indians tickets just look bland and plain after you look at them for a bit.  All of the player portraits are painted in the exact same style, with the exact same background.

Yawn.

I’m going to go with Reds as the best design, Pirates as second best, and Indians third for 2012 season ticket designs.

You can read about the Reds tickets that I received HERE, and the Pirates 2012 season tickets HERE.

The package also contained a letter from the Director of Season Ticket Sales.

It reads:

Dear Mr Jabs:
The Indians 112th Opening Day as a charter member of the American League is fast approaching and we look forward to having you at Progressive Field for the 2012 season.  The Tribe’s strong campaign in 2011 positioned us well to achieve our ultimate goal of bringing a championship to Cleveland.  Our talented young group of players has shown success at the Major League level and has propelled us from a developing team to contenders.

Our commitment to you, our most loyal fans, extends well beyond the field.  We are extremely proud of our heritage as one of Cleveland’s longest standing institutions and strive every day to live our guiding commitments to create memories, connect generations and celebrate families.  Baseball is unique in its ability to produce special moments nearly every day and we strive to foster an environment that celebrates the heritage of the game and the Indians, and gives you superior fan experiences that create a one of a kind, multi-generational memories.

Enclosed please find your Indians Season Ticket Holder Packet of Information which includes:
*Season ticket books
*Club Seat Test Drive Vouchers
*2012 Season Ticket Holder Guide and Planner
*Indians Team Shop Discount Coupons
*Pocket Schedule
*Parking passes

In addition, we have a number of exciting events for 2012 including post-game concerts, Indians Rally Alley Days, Fireworks Shows, Dollar Dog Nights, Kids Fun Days, and more.  Also, five bobble head nights and four replica jersey nights are on the calendar, offering the first 15,000 fans through the gates on each of these nights a keepsake of one of their favorite Indians players, past and present.

Last June, we added a dedicated staff to provide you service and maximize your investment in the Cleveland Indians.  This season, look to hear from your Client Service Specialist often with updates and invitations to exclusive events.  If at any time you have questions related to your season ticket package, please call 216-420-HITS, and we will connect you to your Service Specialist.

We thank you for your support and loyalty.

Go Tribe!
Sincerely,
Nick Arndt
Director, Season Ticket Sales.

By the way, if anyone is every going to be at Progressive Field and needs a 20% coupon, let me know – they sent me 12 of them.

So, ticket wise, I’m all ready to go for the 2012 season.  I have tickets to every game that I plan on attending except for the games that I’m heading to out West.  I’ll probably just turn to stubhub for those.

There’s only 21 more days until Opening Day.  Wow.  Also, you have until Sunday to win a CC Sabathia shirt.  To enter, all you have to do is comment.

Spring is here in PA!

In Pennsylvania and across the country, records are being set for warmth.  It was 77 degrees in Milwaukee today.  81 in Chicago.  I checked my phone, it was 73 degrees outside.  I asked Amy if she wanted to go hit, she said ‘Of course!’  We went to a local little league park for 11-12 year olds.  Its three fields in one giant space, so there’s really no fences to gauge distance or power, but I just wanted to get some swings in.

I was stuck using my new bat, which I hate.

It’s BBCore so it acts like a wooden bat rather than my old illegal 34 inch 30 ounce bat that balls flew off of like golf balls.  That bat, if you remember, met its death in December of 2011 when it broke while facing minor league pitcher Matt Barnes.

I had brought 17 balls with me to the park, and was focusing on making solid contact.

For the most part, I started terribly.  I kept yanking grounders into foul territory.

I guess I could blame the winter months for the rust.  Possibly the gym.  The bat felt like a wiffle ball bat, so I was out in front of a lot of my self-tosses.

Things came together in my last six swings or so as I started to find my home run swing.

I had one bomb that rolled up the hill behind left field – it was my last hit of round 1.

I had enough energy for another round, but I wanted to make things more interesting, so I headed to right field and hit towards the third base dugout to give myself a fence/target.

I’d say it was only about 275′, so it wasn’t too hard to hit some homers.

I had never tried hitting in this area of the field before, but it was fun.

I like putting on a show for Olivia and Amy.

Here’s a couple more pics and then we’ll wrap this up:

Amy’s favorite pic:

My farthest hit:

Check out the 10 day forecast for Pittsburgh:

Who needs spring training when we have Florida weather here now!

What’s everyone doing to enjoy this nation wide warmth?

On another note, I organized all of my Reds Season Tickets on my lunch break:

And Pirates tickets.

I tear them all out, put each game in its own envelope and sort them by date and venue.

This helps since I do a lot of exchanges.

Can you believe Opening Day is only 22 days away?  And you have until Sunday to win this CC Sabathia shirt!

24 hour Nick Markakis Shirt Trivia Contest

It so nice outside – and the blog that I’m working on will take at least an hour to complete, so I’ll save it for another day, and do a quick blog that I can edit easily from my phone. I’ve decided to give away this Nick Markakis shirt. It’s a medium, and I originally bought it for Amy to wear to one of our games during the Opening Week, but it has a small stain on the back. I’m no laundry expert, but a little tide to go should take it right out. Anyway, she’s getting a new one, and I’m giving this one away right now!

Here’s the front:

The back:

The tags:

The tiny tiny stain:

To win, it’s simple:

Get the most points. You earn points by answer questions correctly. The questions can be about anything. Baseball, Ballhawking, Nick Markakis, Me, Random Trivia, etc.

Since most people check my blogs at different times of the day, I decided that it’s only fair to leave the contest open for 24 hours. Throughout the next 24 hours, I’ll post quick questions from my phone and compile standings from time to time.

Whoever answers correctly first wins. You must comment on this blog to enter. When you answer a question, you MUST put the question number with your answer.

For example: 11. What is my favorite team? You MUST answer: 11. Pittsburgh Pirates

If you don’t put the question number, then people’s responses will get all jumbled and make it harder for me to sort through to find who’s first.

You may think you’ve answered first, but maybe not – because sometimes I have to approve new commenters’ comments. So, a new commenter may answer a question at 5:13pm, and you answer one at 5:14pm – the blog will show you as the first commenter until I approve the other person’s comment. At that time, the blog will show the comments in the correct order – with the new commenter winning the question if correct.

Sound confusing? Hopefully not. You may want to look at the comments so you don’t waste your time with duplicate answers because whoever is first obviously would get the point.

Here’s your questions:

1) What nationality is Nick Markakis?
Greek and American, Paul Ellis
My user handle on this site when I comment is 333greystreet.
2) Where does the 333 come from?
House number of boyhood home
3) Where does greystreet come from?
Dave Matthews Band song, my favorite from 2000-2003ish, Ian Weir
4) Who is my favorite Pittsburgh Pirates player?
Evan Meek, Matt Jackson
5) Where did I meet Amy, the love of my life?
PNC Park! Nick Badders
6) What car part gave me trouble during the 2011 season-especially on a trip to Cleveland?
Radiator, PhilliesWSChamps
7) Who do the Orioles play on Opening Day?
Minnesota Twins, TeenRedsFan
8) I’ve played catch with 2 major leaguers prior to games. Name the players.
Ramon Troncoso, Sean Gallagher
9) I used the Cleveland stick to snag a game home run off the bat of this former AL MVP.
Justin Morneau, TeenRedsFan
10) I injured my finger by jamming it on a railing while racing Nick in 2011 for a ball hit by what former Pirate?
Xavier Nady, TeenRedsFan
11) I did a book report in 8th grade on the book ‘My Favorite Summer 1956’. Who was the book about?
Mickey Mantle, TeenRedsFan
12) Who was my favorite Pirates player when I was growing up?
Andy Van Slyke
13) My ballhawking glove features whose signature in the pocket?
Ryne Sandberg, TeenRedsFan
14) What was the first ever commemorative ball that I snagged?
2006 Futures Ball
15) In my ballfields of PA series, what was the lowest rated field that I visited?
West Field, TeenRedsFan
16) My Oakland Athletics ballhawking shirt is a jersey shirt of this former A’s player.
Nick Swisher
17) The first time I saw Dave Matthews Band was in 2000 at this venue.
Three Rivers Stadium, Matt Jackson
18) How many parking tickets have I received during my ballhawking career.
2, in 2007 and 2011
19) What powerful politician lived 2 doors down from me during my freshman year of college?
Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl
20) Before becoming friends with Nick Pelescak, he and his brother called me by this nickname amongst themselves, since they didn’t know my name.
Enemy #1
21) Who did I ballhawk regularly with during the 2008 season at PNC Park?
Andrew McDonald, NYBisons
22) Nick Pelescak broke the single game PNC Park record on a weekday when I was absent for what reason?
Coaching volleyball
23) Who was my guest the first time that I hit on the field at PNC Park as part of my season ticket benefits package?
My dad – 2008
24) Where was my first ever job? (restaurant)
Burger King, NYBisons
25) My dad once had triples of this man in his baseball card collection, so he gave me his 1962 Topps Card. I thought it was awesome. Who was that player?
Stan Musial, TeenRedsFan
26) What was the first year/set that I started collecting in baseball cards?
1989 Topps NY Bisons, Paul Ellis
27) What 1989 Fleer Baseball Card had ‘The F-word’ on display on the bat knob that the player was holding?
Billy Ripken, NYBisons
28) Nick Markakis hit his first major league home run off of what former Pirates pitcher?
Dan Miceli, TeenRedsFan
29) This long time Pittsburgh ballhawk has snagged 1000 balls over 40 years at Forbes Field, Three Rivers, and PNC Park.
Harold, Ian Weir
30) I’ve attended 2 games with my brother while ballhawking. What’s his name?
Jon Jabs, NY Bisons
31) This Orioles broadcaster committed suicide during the 2011 season.
Mike Flanagan, TeenRedsFan
32) Who is my least favorite Pirates player?
Joel Hanrahan, Mateo Fischer
33) I drove past 2 stadiums that I’ve never set foot in on other trips during the past 2 years. What are those 2 stadiums?
US Cellular Field, NY Bisons (0.5 pt)
Safeco Field, Seattle (2010 when seeing DMB at the Gorge)
34) Players throw balls into the stands, Dave Matthews flicks pics into the crowd at DMB concerts, but you could also snag this item thrown by Carter Beauford.
Drumstick, NYBisons
35) I’ve never been crazy in love with Camden Yards like other ballhawks. Perhaps it has something to do with what happened to me 30 seconds after entering the stadium for the first time. What happened?
Badly twisted my ankle, PhilliesWSChamps
36) I got into ballhawking later than most. Things could’ve been different. When I was 10, I narrowly missed catching a foul ball while sitting past third base off the bat of this San Diego Padre. Had I caught the ball maybe I’d have gotten into ballhawking earlier.
Tony Gwynn
37) I’ve been buying a few jerseys throughout the offseason. I bought one last week for a colossal discount. A stitched jersey for $19.99? Couldn’t pass it up. Whose jersey did I buy?
Prince Fielder
38) Every Wednesday as a kid I would rush home to read what Baseball publication?
Baseball Weekly
39) I once lost my glove while attempting a ridiculously hard to reach ball in the Cleveland bullpen. What Brewers coach graciously returned my glove? (no more difficult glove tricks for me after that episode)
Marcus Hanel
40) What baseball book did Amy get me for Christmas 2010?
Moneyball, NYBisons
41) What team were the Pirates playing when my daughter was born?
Chicago Cubs, NYBisons
42) Who led the majors in home runs the year I was born?
Mike Schmidt 48, PhilliesWSChamps
43) I was at my grandma’s house in Connecticut when I received one of the worst kind of news that a kid could get on August 12th 1994. What had happened?
MLB Strike, NY Bisons
44) I don’t count Spring Training balls in my career numbers but how many have I snagged?
56
45) I attended one game at Citizens Bank Park.  What historic achievement did the Phillies accomplish in the first inning of that game?
10 Runs in the First, James
46) This Orioles player was one of my favorites when I was growing up, in fact, I had a whole binder dedicated to him filled with all of his baseball cards.
Cal Ripken Jr, NYBisons
47)  The first time I attended a Reds game in Cincinnati, I went with my best friend from my childhood.  Who was it?
Joe Filipowski, TeenRedsFan
48)  Who is the Pittsburgh Ballhawk who was given unrestricted access behind the outfield wall during the 80’s and 90’s at Three Rivers Stadium and claims to have picked up and kept over 5,000 baseballs?
Baseball Joe, Ian Weir
49)  What National News program interviewed me live in the Spring of 2011?
Fox News, NYBisons
50)  In my classroom at school I have a life sized poster of what baseball player?
Andrew McCutchen, Connor
51)  I snagged a Carlos Santana AA home run baseball at what Minor League Park?
Canal Park, James
52)  When I started my blog, how many baseballs had I snagged?
132, NY Bisons
53)  What player predicted a 50-50 season for himself in 2012?
Matt Kemp, James
54)  What Pirates player face-planted when reacting to the ball off the bat of a home run surrendered by Jo-Jo Reyes during a recent Spring Training game?
Alex Presley, NYBisons
55)  I once scaled a building to get a ball.  What was that building?
Concession Stand, Connor
56)  From 2008-2011 I held season tickets in what section of PNC Park?
Section 327, TeenRedsFan
57)  Who hit the longest home run at PNC Park and how many feet?
Sammy Sosa 484′, NY Bisons
58)  Zack Hample mentions my name on what page of his book ‘The Baseball?’
Page 329, TeenRedsFan
59)  When looking for a baseball last season in the grass surrounding the base of trees at Heritage Park, I found this object hidden and immediately turned it over to a supervisor.
A cellphone
60)  This Pittsburgh coach has held a grudge against me since catching me switching shirts to the visiting team.  He punishes me by throwing Nick a ball every day right in front of me, while ignoring me.
Heberto Andrade, TeenRedsFan
61)  This item dropped out of my backpack as I raced towards an Easter Egg in Cleveland in late 2011.  I got the ball – an Angels commemorative, but someone stole this item – because it was gone when I went back 30 seconds later.
Cleveland Stick, TeenRedsFans

I apologize that most of my 2009 and 2010 entries are all messed up. When mlblogs converted to WordPress they all got deleted/severely truncated.

Your winner is: NYBisons!

With TeenRedsFan finishing a close second!

Point Standings:
NYBisons 15.5
TeenRedsFan 14
PhilliesWSChamps 3
James 3
Ian Weir 3
Paul Ellis 2
Matt Jackson 2
Connor 2
Nick Badders 1
Mateo Fischer 1

Thanks to all those that played.  We’ll have to do that again!
I hope the questions weren’t too hard.  I tried to make a lot of them questions that you would only know if you were a long time blog reader, because many baseball trivia questions are so easy to look up quickly via google.

CC Sabathia Yankees Shirt Giveaway

I’m giving away MLB Stuff every week on this blog to reward my readers.

I’ve given away a Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr,
a Brandon Phillips shirt to Matt Jackson,
a Dustin Pedroia shirt to Stephen D,
a Phillies shirt to Connor,
a Dodgers shirt to Matt Jackson,
and this Ryan Zimmerman shirt to Big Brown Fox.

This week, I’m giving away this CC Sabathia shirt:

It’s has the NY logo on the front:

And costs $25 – it still has the tags!

Sabathia is the Yankees best starter, and has been for the past couple years.  I’ll never forget the one hitter he threw against the Pirates back in August of 2008.  The only hit was a swinging bunt off the bat of Andy LaRoche.  Sabathia fielded the ball, but threw it away.  If fielded cleanly, LaRoche surely would’ve been out.  However, the official scorer awarded a hit rather than an error, thereby robbing me of seeing a no hitter.  I still have never seen a no hitter in person.

Anyway, since joining the Yankees, Sabathia has had 19, 21, and 19 win seasons.  He’s thrown at least 230 innings in each season with the Yankees.  He’s struck out at least 197 in each of his 3 seasons with the Yankees, and posted ERA’s between 3.00 and 3.37 over those 3 seasons.  Statistically, its amazing to see how consistent he’s been.

Now you can own a jersey shirt of his!

Here’s how you win the shirt:

I post blog entries every day.  All you have to do is leave a comment or retweet my blog link on twitter.

So, again,  to enter:
1)  Leave a comment.
You can enter up to seven times per week simply by leaving a comment.  Non-pertinent, spam, or inappropriate comments will not be accepted.  If you comment multiple times on the same blog entry, it still counts as one entry.  For example, if you commented on three different blog posts from this week, you’d have three entries.  If you’d comment three times on the same blog posting, it would could as one.

2)  Retweet (RT) my posts on Twitter
You can find me on twitter under 333greystreet.  Simply retweet my daily posts of my blog link and I’ll count that as an entry.  My blog is connected to my twitter so that I automatically tweet once I post a new entry.  Each day, I’ll search who’s retweeted me and enter those users into a hat along with the commenters.  By the way, you do not need to retweet my every tweet, only the tweets that announce a new blog post and url.  For example, if I tweeted, ‘Rerun of the Pirates Opening Day 2011 on tonight,’ if you retweeted it, it wouldn’t count as an entry.

At the end of the week on Sunday, I’ll have Olivia, Amy or myself choose a name from a hat and announce the winner.

There’s only 24 more days until Opening Day!

Ryan Zimmerman Shirt Winner

It’s time to announce the winner. In what Amy called the worst idea for picking a winner ever (due to the set up and clean up process), the winner is…

Here’s your past winners:
I’ve given away a Matt Wieters shirt to Joey Orr,
a Brandon Phillips shirt to Matt Jackson,
a Dustin Pedroia shirt to Stephen D,
a Phillies shirt to Connor,
and this Dodgers shirt shirt to Matt Jackson

Check back tomorrow for our next giveaway.

25 more days until Opening Day!

2012 NL Central Predictions & Preview

Today, I’ve decided to focus on probably the hardest division to predict.  In case you missed my division previews, you can read my AL East Preview, AL Central Preview, AL West and NL East preview by clicking on the links provided.

I’ve used the Major League Baseball Yearbook magazine to provide the statistical projects.

Here’s how I think the Central will end up:

1st place: Cincinnati Reds (My prediction 90-72)
This pick may surprise a lot of people as many national publications list the Reds as the third best team in their division.  The Reds were great in 2010, but stumbled in 2011.

Devin Mesoraco is a strong candidate for NL Rookie of the Year.  He’s been a major offensive threat in the minor leagues, hitting .302 with 26 homers in 2010, and .289 with 15 homers and 36 doubles last year.

Joey Votto is one of the best players in the game and is a candidate to be extended by the Reds, although it would likely take a $100 million+ commitment.  He led the league in walks and Is a career .313 hitter.  Votto has never hit less than 24 homers in a full season.  He led the NL in doubles last season.  He’s a beast.  He’s ‘Votto-matic.’

Brandon Phillips is one of the best second basemen in the league.  He is a gold glove fielder and a major offensive threat with power and speed.  Phillips is a complete player.

Scott Rolen is a veteran third baseman that has been unpredictable the last few seasons.  He had poor seasons in 2005, 2007, 2008, and 2011 – but had good seasons in 2006 with 22 homers and 2010 with 20 homers.  Which Rolen will show up in 2012?  It will be rather important to the Reds season.  Rolen also plays a solid third base, winning eight gold gloves in his career.

At shortstop, the Reds will give youngster Zack Cozart the chance to establish himself as a starter.

The outfield is anchored by Jay Bruce, Drew Stubbs and Chris Heisey.  All three have moderate-good power although their averages are suspect.

Jay Bruce is the big bat of the group, and will be a middle of the order force.

Drew Stubbs is a speedster, but struck out over 200 times last year.

The Reds offense is slightly better that the Cardinals, but their rotation is slightly worse than the Red Birds.  The Reds have Johnny Cueto at the top of the rotation.  He was great last year, posting a 2.31 ERA.

Walt Jocketty traded for Mat Latos to be another front line starter in the rotation.  It will be interesting to see how well Latos does away from cavernous Petco Park.  Great American Park is a bit of a bandbox, where the ball has been known to carry well.

Mike Leake and Hoemr Bailey are slightly above average, and Bronson Arroyo is average.

I like the backend of the Reds bullpen.  Ryan Madson proved himself as a closer in Philadelphia and will shut the door for the Reds this year.

The Reds also have Aroldis Chapman, Sean Marshall and Logan Ondrusek to set up Madson.  Not too shabby at all.

Most people are picking the Cardinals or Brewers as the division champs, but I’m telling you, its going to be the Reds.  They are going to the playoffs, and hopefully to the World Series.  If that happens, I’ll be at my first ever World Series game as a season ticket holder.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Devin Mesoraco .244-16-50
1B Joey Votto .310-31-103
2B Brandon Phillips .294-18-76
3B Scott Rolen .265-14-76
SS Zack Cozart .274-12-50
LF Chris Heisey .256-20-55
CF Drew Stubbs .246-16-60
RF Jay Bruce .258-28-86

SP Johnny Cueto 10-6, 3.08 ERA, 167 IP, 119 K
SP Mat Latos 15-10, 3.71 ERA, 196 IP, 191 K
SP Bronson Arroyo 12-11, 4.43 ERA, 205 IP, 112 K
SP Homer Bailey 17-12, 4.02 ERA, 210 IP, 190 K
SP Mike Leake 15-9, 3.67 ERA, 208 IP, 152 K
RP Ryan Madson 2.56 ERA, 27 SV, 59 IP, 64 K
RP Logan Ondrusek 3.44 ERA, 16 SV, 65 IP, 43 K
RP Sean Marshall 2.62 ERA, 3 SV, 76 IP, 81 K

2nd place: St Louis Cardinals (My prediction 88-74)
The Cardinals won the World Series last year after sneaking into the playoffs by winning the wild card after the Braves collapsed in September.  They lost Albert Pujols to free agency, and are getting back Adam Wainwright from injury.  I think that the Cardinals probably have the best pitching staff in the division, but I’m not completely sold on their offense.

Yadier Molina just signed a $75 million contract.  He’s probably the best overall catcher in the division, and hit .300 last year with some power.

Ok, Lance Berkman had the best season that’s he’s had in awhile in 2011.  He’s 36 though this year.  I think Berkman will have a good year, but not nearly what he did in 2011.  Prove me wrong Lance.

Up the middle, the Cardinals have Daniel Descalso, who hasn’t exactly proven himself as a major leaguer, and Rafael Furcal, who is an aging veteran.

David Freese looks to be a superstar in the making at third base.  He reminds me of a young David Wright.  His heroics in the postseason will be talked about for years.  However, the Cardinals infield just isn’t as good as the Reds.

The Cardinals outfield is better than the Reds, but not by much.  Allen Craig will get more playing time in 2012 than last year,

Carlos Beltran will try to prove that he’s not an aging veteran, although he is.  Personally, I hate Beltran for snubbing the Indians free agent offer this offseason, as well as nixing a trade to Pittsburgh last year.

Matt Holliday had a bit of a down year last year, only hitting 22 homers, but he still made the All Star team.

The Cardinals rotation is the best in the National League Central.  Chris Carpenter is the ace of the staff.  However, he threw 276 innings between the regular season and post season in 2011 and could be headed towards an injury riddled season, or at least a sub par season by his standards.

Adam Wainwright was a Cy Young caliber pitcher before he had surgery prior to the 2011 season.  I think he’ll still be effective – but as effective as he was in 2010 when he was 20-11?  Probably not.

Jamie Garcia is a quality #3 starter and proved himself in 2011, winning 13 games while posting a 3.56 ERA.

However, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook are just average.

At the back end of the bullpen, the Cardinals have Jason Motte, possibly the biggest a**hole I’ve ever witnessed in batting practice.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Yadier Molina .300-12-64
1B Lance Berkman .290-26-87
2B Daniel Descalso .267-6-46
3B David Freese .292-20-100
SS Rafael Furcal .241-8-41
LF Allen Craig .292-17-55
CF Carlos Beltran .299-17-65
RF Matt Holliday .298-26-94

SP Chris Carpenter 15-8, 3.22 ERA, 229 IP, 182 K
SP Adam Wainwright 16-8, 3.15 ERA, 214 IP, 182 K
SP Jaime Garcia 13-8, 3.34 ERA, 181 IP, 144 K
SP Kyle Lohse 12-10, 3.99 ERA, 183 IP, 111 K
SP Jake Westbrook 11-9, 4.35 ERA, 172 IP, 110 K
RP Jason Motte 2.23 ERA, 30 SV, 69 IP, 58 K
RP Fernando Salas 4.73 ERA, 4 SV, 72 IP, 72 K

3rd place:  Milwaukee Brewers (My prediction 85-77)
The Brewers lost the heart of their order when they lost Prince Fielder to free agency.  Fielder provided protection in the lineup for Ryan Braun, who saw a lot more pitches with Fielder looming behind him.  His loss will be large.  The Brewers picked up an aging veteran in Aramis Ramirez, who could conceivably still have a good season or two left in him, but he’s no Prince Fielder.  The Brewers also acquired Jose Veras from the Pirates.  It won’t be long until Brewers fans are taking anxiety meds every time Veras takes the mound.  Trust me – you’ll see what I mean.

Jonathan Lucroy is an above average catcher, belting 12 homers last year.  Personally, I like him, having caught one of his foul balls on the fly in 2010.

The big hole in the Brewers line up will be at first base.  Losing Prince Fielder hurts.  Mat Gamel should finally get a chance to show what he can do.  He could be acceptable, but he’ll be no Prince Fielder.

Rickie Weeks is awesome.  We could argue all night about if Weeks is better than the Reds’ Brandon Phillips – it’s a pretty good argument.  The Brewers though have a star at second.  Weeks clubbed 20 homers last year.

Third base this year features Aramis Ramirez.  Ramirez was brought in to help make up for some of the offense that the Brewers lost when Fielder departed.  Ramirez is in his mid 30’s now, and hasn’t hit over 30 homers since 2006.  He’s good, but I hope Brewers fans are expected 40 homers out of him.

At shortstop, Alex Gonzalez will be average.

All eyes will be on Ryan Braun throughout 2012.  Most people will watch to see how Braun follows up his MVP season.  Braun tested positive for performance enhancers at the end of the 2011 season, but won his appeal on a technicality and won’t face a suspension.  I think his numbers will drop off this season.  He won’t have Fielder hitting behind him.  He’ll be booed and taunted mercilessly at all road games.  He’ll have immense pressure on him from the media.  It will affect his play on the field.

Nyjer Morgan, an ex-Pirate, will continue to rub the opposing team the wrong way.  He plays will a lot of intensity though, which is why Brewers fans love him.  I’m predicting at least one bench clearing brawl incited by Morgan in 2012.

Corey Hart will play right.  He’ll miss a few weeks in spring training to have his knee cleaned up, but otherwise he’ll be ok to go for 2012.  He’s got some pop, clubbing 26 homers in 2011.

The Brewers rotation put up decent numbers in 2011, with Yovani Gallardo, Zack Greinke, Shaun Marcum, and Randy Wolf all posting sub 4.00 ERAs.  I like Gallardo and Greinke’s chances on repeated success in 2012, but I’m not sure about Marcum or Wolf.  I think they’ll be slightly above average this year.  Marcum had some trouble in the playoffs and seemed very hittable.

The Brewers back end of the bullpen is the best in the division.  They’ve got John Axford to slam the door shut at the end of the game.

Francisco Rodriguez will set him up.

The Brewers will compete for the division title.  It’s going to be a logjam at the top of the division between the Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers.
2012 Statistical Projections:
C Jonathan Lucroy .260-11-54
1B Mat Gamel .262-15-78
2B Rickie Weeks .267-25-96
3B Aramis Ramirez .295-29-102
SS Alex Gonzalez .245-16-62
LF Ryan Braun .322-22-75
CF Nyjer Morgan .289-3-40
RF Corey Hart .284-29-77

SP Yovani Gallardo 15-9, 3.61 ERA, 194 IP, 204 K
SP Zack Greinke 18-9, 3.62 ERA, 197 IP, 224 K
SP Shaun Marcum 12-7, 3.59 ERA, 191 IP, 152 K
SP Randy Wolf 13-10, 3.80 ERA, 211 IP, 123 K
SP Chris Narveson 11-8, 4.60 ERA, 157 IP, 123 K
RP John Axford 2.00 ERA, 38 SV, 68 IP, 81 K
RP Francisco Rodriguez 2.35 ERA, 8 SV, 65 IP, 73 K

4th place: Pittsburgh Pirates (My prediction 81-81)
You can read my Pittsburgh Pirates preview here I did it separately because it ended up being such a long preview.

5th place: Chicago Cubs (My prediction 68-92)
I think the Cubs are going to be pretty bad.  They have a new manager in Dale Sveum, and added Theo Epstein to the front office, but they don’t play the games.  It all comes down to the talent on the field.

Geovany Soto is above average.  He’s got some good power, although he struggled at the plate often last year, hitting just .228.

Bryan LaHair replaces Carlos Pena at first base.  He’s a young prospect and will get a chance for the rebuilding Cubs.

Darwin Barney is a prototypical second baseman, he’s a decent fielder, but has almost no power.

His double play partner, Starlin Castro, is the Cubs best offensive threat.  He was charged with assaulting a girl though during the offseason, which could cause him to lose focus this season.

The Cubs have to plug another hole at third base, having lost Aramis Ramirez to free agency.  They’ll likely do it with Ian Stewart or Jeff Baker, who aren’t nearly the players that Ramirez is.

In the outfield, it looks like the Cubs will run out Alfonso Soriano, who had 26 bombs last year, but only hit .244,

and Marlon Byrd – a solid player offensively,

and David DeJesus, who had a bit of a down year last year, hitting just .240 with 10 homers.

The Cubs offense is below average to say the least.  Without Pena and Ramirez, its lost much of its punch.

The rotation is anchored by Matt Garza.

Behind him though, there’s Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Travis Wood, and Chris Volstad.  I’d classify all of them as average.

Carlos Marmol of course is the closer.  He’s got one of the most devasting sliders in the game, and will strike out a ton of guys.

The Central is a tale of two classes.  We have the Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers, who should be lumped up at the top of the division, and the Pirates, Cubs, and Astros that will battle it out for 4th.  I don’t really see any justification to put the Cubs ahead of the Pirates though.  Hell, they could lose 100 games.  Although, not having Carlos Zambrano around will be a huge plus.  I’d vote for him as the worst teammate in baseball.  He’s the Marlins problem now.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Geovany Soto .238-20-64
1B Bryan LaHair .260-15-50
2B Darwin Barney .269-1-25
3B Ian Steward .233-8-32
SS Starlin Castro .316-12-60
LF Alfonso Soriano .243-27-91
CF Marlon Byrd .277-11-47
RF David DeJesus .262-11-53

SP Ryan Dempster 12-13, 4.32 ERA, 204 IP, 193 K
SP Matt Garza 15-10, 3.48 ERA, 202 IP, 180 K
SP Chris Volstad 13-10, 4.51 ERA, 194 IP, 129 K
SP Randy Wells 10-9, 4.35 ERA, 163 IP, 107 K
SP Travis Wood 10-9, 4.16 ERA, 175 IP, 134 K
RP Carlos Marmol 3.63 ERA, 33 SV, 74 IP, 100 K
RP Jeff Samardzija 4.76 ERA, 0 SV, 74 IP, 67 K

6th Place:  Houston Astros (My prediction: 57-105)
The Astros are in the middle of a massive rebuilding process.  They lost 106 games last year, and likely will struggle through the season again.

I don’t even feel comfortable offering comments on any of these guys.  Most of them would still be in AA or AAA if not for the Astros needing bodies to fill out a 25 man roster at the major league level.

Veterans Carlos Lee

and Wandy Rodriguez could serve as trade bait at the trading deadline if they perform well.

It’ll also be interesting to see how JA Happ, the center piece of the Roy Oswalt deal, does.  I always expected him to become a pretty decent starter, but he was horrible last year.

Do you think the Astros will lose more games in 2012 than last year?  I mean, at least last year they had Hunter Pence for half the season.

2012 Statistical Projections:
C Jason Castro .252-7-54
1B Carlos Lee .272-20-93
2B Jose Altuve .287-4-49
3B Jimmy Paredes .266-5-43
SS Jed Lowrie .251-11-52
LF JD Martinez .287-15-88
CF Jordan Schafer .244-3-22
RF Brian Bogusevic .267-10-40

SP Wandy Rodriguez 11-11, 3.46 ERA, 192 IP, 173
SP Brett Myers 10-11, 3.91 ERA, 214 IP, 165 K (however, projects as a closer)
SP Bud Norris 7-11, 4.03 ERA, 176 IP, 170 K
SP JA Happ 10-12, 4.48 ERA, 167 IP, 137 K
SP Jordan Lyles 10-10, 4.58 ERA, 173 IP, 128 K
RP Juan Abreu 3.03 ERA, 26 SV, 59 IP, 75 K
RP Wilton Lopez 3.02 ERA, 0 SV, 63 IP, 47 K

So, to wrap it up, I have the
Reds
Cardinals
Brewers
Pirates
Cubs
Astros

Agree or disagree?

How do you think they’ll finish?

There’s just 26 days until Opening Day, and tomorrow (Sunday) you can win this Ryan Zimmerman shirt.

MLB At Bat ’12 = Best App Ever

I’ve had a subscription to MLB.tv for several years now.  It allows me to watch tons of games (although I never really do because I attend so many) and also it lets me go back and re-watch plays unfold of games I was at.  Did a home run sail over my head in a game?  If so, I can go back and check the tape and find myself.

This year, those users who buy MLB.tv also get the At Bat ’12 app for free.  It’s worth it.  Trust me.  It’s the greatest app ever.

Here’s a little bit of what it can do.

First, the app asks you to identify your favorite team.  Every time you log in, you get this screen first.


You can quickly check the score of your favorite team, look at a schedule, buy tickets, etc.  Click on schedule and you can view all of the recent scores from any game of your choosing, or check out what teams are coming up next.

There’s also a news tab at the bottom that allows you to keep up on every little thing that happens:

Want highlights?  MLB At Bat has video highlights:

Believe it or not you can also buy tickets with a couple of taps of your finger on your phone:

You’ll never need to open another slow internet browser page on your phone again.  Everything can be done on the At Bat 12 app.

One of my favorite features is the roster.  It usually takes me at least 15 minutes prior to a series to make a roster.  I have to find the current 25 man roster, copy and paste.  Then go through and get a picture of each player that I don’t recognize, which can be a lot if its a team that’s not from the NL Central Division that I see often, such as the Royals.  Anyhow, the MLB At Bat ’12 Roster tab brings up an alphabetized list of the players which is also sortable by position.  Most useful is that the roster also includes the player’s number and a face picture!

I use At Bat mostly for checking the scores of games.  I can quickly see what the scores are and check box scores in the blink of an eye.

But I can also check league leaders

and standings.

I also like the ability to see all of a particular day’s games.  It will make looking for a day game after a day game much easier (since day after day games likely have batting practice).

If you aren’t able to watch a game on your phone because you’re driving, you can listen to the game easily.  And you can choose the home or away feed.  I usually use this feature when driving home from another stadium to Pittsburgh to check in on the Pirates.

Lastly, the coolest part of the app is watching live games.  You get the same feed that everyone else would be seeing on TV:

In amazing quality:

I’m watching the Pirates take on the Red Sox right now:

It’s amazing to think all this is done on a cell phone.  Who even needs a computer anymore?

While watching games, you can click the line score in the top right of the screen to bring a drop down box of other games that you can scroll through to check other scores, without ever leaving the game:

You can do the same thing with a transparent box score to see how each player is doing in the game, and you never have to leave the video feed.

If you don’t have MLB.tv and At Bat ’12, I’d highly recommend that you do.  If you’re a big baseball fan you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it!

Does anyone else love this app?  Or are there other great baseball apps you use throughout the season?

There’s only 27 more days til Opening Day, and you have 3 more days (Sunday night) to win this Ryan Zimmerman shirt.

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